Para-Badminton Flourishing

Posted by Rob Short at 12:06 on 30 June 2014

England Para-Badminton International

Impaired athletes are getting more opportunities than ever to compete in para-badminton, with nearly 100 of the world’s top players from 17 countries descending on Loughborough University today for the start of the England Para-Badminton International.

This follows the Indonesia Para-Badminton International which took place earlier this month with more than 60 athletes participating. Thanks to para-badminton’s growing popularity, more tournaments are planned for later this year with the 2014 Para-Badminton European Championships slated for September and the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, Korea, in October, where badminton is included as an official sport.

“There’s a lot of interest in para-badminton and the number of events and development is increasing annually worldwide. BWF is committed to developing para-badminton and we are working with our member associations and related organisations to achieve this. We had a successful World Championships last year with 235 athletes from 36 countries taking part. Following on from that, there was a lot of enthusiasm within the para-badminton community to have more tournaments,” said BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund.

“We’ve had really positive reports about the inaugural international in Indonesia in which both men and women took part and we look forward to similar positive reviews from the England Para-Badminton International where athletes from Europe will be joined by their peers from Asia and South America.

“These are exciting times for para-badminton and we’re pleased with how it is developing and showing the world what a great sport and spectacle it is.”

The England Para-Badminton International is headlined by the host nation’s double World Champions Rachel Choong and Andrew Martin. Such is the event’s pull that it has attracted players from as far away as Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia, Peru and Thailand to challenge and compete – along with their European peers – for medals in 23 medaled events.

BADMINTON England Tournament Director Nicola Moloney said: “It promises to be great and I urge fans to come and see these brilliant competitors in action. We have players from 20 nations so it will have a real international flavour.”

Competitors from nine countries – Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore and Thailand – vied for honours at the Indonesia Para-Badminton International, held at Sritex Arena in Solo from 9-13 June by the National Paralympic Committee of Indonesia and the Badminton World Federation (BWF). As a special incentive to attract young women to the sport, BWF offered a Development Participation Grant for female players in the standing classes. 

Para-badminton athletes are classified, according to their respective impairments, into the following sport classes: Wheelchair 1 (WH 1); Wheelchair 2 (WH 2); Standing Lower 3 (SL 3): Standing Lower 4 (SL 4) and Standing Upper 5 (SU 5) and Short Stature 6 (SS 6).

While this on-court action is unfolding, BWF is steadily progressing with its application for para-badminton’s inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. A delegation from the world-governing body recently met with International Paralympic Committee (IPC) officials in Bonn, Germany, to discuss BWF’s proposal and the way forward for the remainder of the bid process.

“It was a great pleasure to be in Bonn and share our ideas with the IPC and to listen to where para-sport is heading in the medium to long term,” said BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer who led the delegation.

“There was a spirit of openness to ideas and we appreciated the expertise and experience the IPC had around the table. We took away some good learnings and we are looking forward to finalising our proposal for submission next month and then putting our best case forward to the IPC Governing Board in October”.

“Our best selling point is para-badminton itself. Watching it shows what an attractive and dynamic sport it is with great action and very competitive athletes who give their all on court. There has been a lot of development in recent years and the regulations and classification system have been enhanced to add value to para-badminton.”

Meanwhile, BWF is continuing to educate its technical officials to adapt to the specifics of para-badminton. Chair of the BWF Technical Officials Commission, Torsten Berg – who brings more than 30 years’ expertise to his role – has been spearheading the upgrading of referees, umpires and technical delegates so they can also officiate in para-badminton tournaments. This is an integrated approach to officiating – One Sport – One Team. As a result, current top-level BWF and continental technical officials now have the additional relevant skills to do so.